Kyoto Journal 85


Published March 20th, 2016

 

Download single issue PDF (JPY ¥500, approx $5)

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
IMG_1205

SMALL BUILDINGS
OF KYOTO


 
p5 credit Aki Murase

LIVING WITH TEA


 
SEIZA

SEIZA:
SITTING IN STILLNESS


 
a1  工间休息

CHINESE LABOR POEMS


 
#BCTION 6F-2

#BCTION


 
12_Dreamer

GENESIS ART PROJECT


 
nature 85

SAVING
MALAYSIAN ELEPHANTS


 
tea

MORE TEA


 
KJ 85 cover
 
 

How do we give ourselves space and time to disengage our mental autopilot, re-awaken our senses, re-enter the present? Personal rituals can lend us focus, ease and grace, and release creativity.

 

 
In Kyoto, green tea is not simply a beverage; it’s the essential ingredient in a ceremony that strips away inessentials and sets the scene for deeper resonances. Alexandra Ting interviews younger-generation practitioners at Toutousha, a teahouse “intoxicated with tea, or beauty.” Some prefer formal meditation: Okada Torajiro, profiled by Joshua Shapiro, developed his own form of simply sitting, during the intellectual ferment of the later Meiji era—noting however that if he had been teaching in the West, he might have used dance as his practice. Observing the play of human emotions is hardly new: Dola RC reports that since the 5th century, Indian playwrights, poets and artists have explored rasa, the “juice”—as in essence and energy—inherent in the responsive psyche. Even earlier, the Buddha famously noted the paradox that “form is emptiness, and emptiness is form”: Paula Arai introduces former scientist Iwasaki Tsuneo, who spent his last years inscribing that Heart Sutra illumination into images of the cosmos. As described by Mon Ooyama, Tokyo arts collective #BCTION’s invocation to creativity was a much faster burn— they took over a soon-to-be-demolished 10-story office tower, and within a month, transformed it into a short-lived monument to the quirkily mindful immediacy of street art (meanwhile incorporating a space for tea, and tea-master Matsumura Souryu, in one of the upper levels). Liane Wakabayashi, a self-taught artist, describes creating her Genesis Cards to encourage others to access and exercise their creative powers.

Art and literature of course deal with dark as well as light. Accompanied by haunting photographs from Zhan You Bing, translator Eleanor Goodman introduces young Chinese poet Xu Lizhi, talented enough to have spoken for his generation as a national poet laureate—instead, sadly, he’s remembered as a Foxconn employee who suicided at age 24. In our In Translation feature, Norma Fields champions Japanese “proletariat literature” from a groundbreaking new anthology—with a story by Kobayashi Takiji, who was tortured to death in 1933 by the Tokkō “thought police,” at age 29.

Back on the brighter side, evolutionary biologist Sara Lewis tells of the resurgence of Japan’s fireflies, and Nepali poet Sudeep Adhikari illuminates the psychocosm. George Jisho reflects on the nature of spiritual sustenance, Peter Shireson opens a gateless gate where koans and poetry intersect, and publisher of poetry Paul Rossiter talks about his vocation (preceding a wide-ranging reviews section). John Einarsen focuses his lens on a new photographic genre—Kyoto’s smallest buildings—and Seattle resident Sara Yamasaki recalls her family’s “giant bonsai.” Vinita Ramani tracks endangered elephants in Malaysia; local writer Jesse Efron reveals in a fiction piece the true fact that a US military telecommunications surveillance facility has been quietly established in northern Kyoto Prefecture. Melissa Uchiyama holds her family’s life together on the Ring of Fire, and KJ Rambler-at-large Robert Brady, former surveillancer of Cold War China, surfs the great Eurasian tectonic plate.
 

CONTENTS


 
FEATURES
A House Living with Tea
Alexandra Ting
 
The Life and Times of Okada Torajiro
Joshua Shapiro
 
#Bction: Reclaiming Creativity, Inspiring
Interactivity in Urban ‘Dead Space’
Mon Ooyama
#bction Chanoyu: Talking with Tokyo
Teamaster Soryou Matsumura
 
An Exaltation of Rasa
Dola RC
 
Seeing the Wisdom of Compassion:
The Art & Science of the Heart Sutra
Paula Arai

 
HEARTWORK
Visualizing Intuition with Genesis Art
Liane Wakabayashi

 
IN TRANSLATION
For Dignity, Justice and Revolution
Comrade Taguchi’s Sorrow
Kobayashi Takiji
Translated by Norma Field

 
ENCOUNTERS
Any Ring is Commitment
—Even One Made of Fire
Melissa Uchiyama
 
Giant Bonsai
Sara Yamasaki
 
KYOTO NOTEBOOK
Small Buildings of Kyoto
John Einarsen
 
POETRY
Through the Gateless Gate
Peter Schireson
 
Left Behind
Xu Lizhi
 
Psychocosm Nothingness
Sudeep Adhikari
 
Poetry Dharma and Nourishment
George Jisho Robertson

 
NATURE
The Unseen Wild: Tracking the Elephants
of Belum-Temegor Forest, Malaysia
Vinita Ramani
 
RENEWAL
Hotaru Koi: Come Firefly
Sara Lewis
 
FICTION
87
Jesse Efrom

 
RAMBLE
My Life on the Eurasian Plate
Robert Brady
 
REVIEWS
Paul Rossiter on Isobar and
English Poetry in Japan
Interview by Gregory Dunne